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Ingrid van Biezen and Ekaterina R Rashkova, "Deterring new party entry? The impact of state regulation on the permeability of party systems," Party Politics, 20 (November, 2014), 890-903. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue6/ ]

First paragraph:
In recent years, both the external and internal activities of European political parties have become increasingly subject to external regulations that define or prescribe their operations. Indeed, the legal regulation of political parties has become more and more customary, to the point that, as Katz (2002: 90) has noted, parties have become 'legitimate objects of state regulation to a degree far exceeding what would normally be acceptable for private associations in a liberal society'. Many of these regulations were first introduced or were substantially extended in the wake of the introduction of public funding for parties, as the provision of state subventions inevitably demanded a more codified system of party registration and control. Controlling party access to the public broadcasting media has also required the introduction or extension of the system of regulation, which has acted to codify the status of parties and their range of activities. In addition, the rising level of popular discontent seems to have encouraged the enactment of further party legislation, with the primary focus on the question how parties ought to operate if they are to fulfil their democratic functions adequately. State regulation of political parties has therefore expanded substantially, gradually renouncing the notion of parties as fundamentally private and voluntary associations, as a consequence of which the state in liberal democratic societies has traditionally been reluctant to intervene in operations of political parties. Today, 28 out of the 33 European democracies have formally codified political parties in their national constitutions; 20 countries have adopted a special party law, while 19 of them have adopted a law on party financing.

Table 1. New party entry in European legislatures.
Table 2. Dimensions of party regulation by country (%).*
Table 3. ANOVA tests of significant differences in party regulation.*
Table 4. Changes in party regulation by category.
Table 5. Party regulation and the number of new party entries

Last Paragraph:
In this article, we have systematically assessed the impact of state regulation on the permeability of party systems across post-war European democracies. Our statistical models show that there is a significant relationship between the amount of regulation and the number of new party entries, with the latter decreasing as amount of regulation increases. This is consistent in several different model specifications, controlling for the effects of the electoral law, the stability of the party system, as well as the parameters of public funding. While large district magnitudes and high levels of electoral volatility appear to increase the permeability of the system, the funding regime appears to have no noticeable effect on the number of parties. Whether or not these consequences were intended is hard to say, as the underlying motivations of the decision-makers are difficult to assess reliably. In any case, this article offers the first quantified proof of a phenomenon upon which many have speculated but for which there is limited empirical evidence thus far. As regulation increases in range and magnitude, it indeed acts to prevent new parties from successfully crossing the threshold of parliamentary representation.

Last updated November 2014